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Hi everyone! 

I'm new to 3DCoat, and in 3D art in general, and I'm looking for a good workflow. I've already worked several times in Blender, creating very low poly meshes, and I've sculpted high res meshes in ZBrush and I'm now starting with 3DCoat! I can do a blockout for a weapon or a base mesh for a character, and I've found no problems in importing the second in surface sculpt mode, subdiving/voxelizing it and sculpting the details. ^_^

Ridiculously, I'm having more issues with the hard surface. The most common workflow in the world is creating a basic geometry in Maya/Blender and importing it in ZBrush/3DCoat, subdiving it, and sculpting details on the surface. I do like creating blockouts in Blender - mostly because I can control very, very good every face, vertex, and edge. Being a newbie to the software and having seen some videos around, my questions are:

- Which workflow do you reccomend in general, or for a specific task like character/hardsurface and why? Do you use a blockout made in Blender/Maya/Etc or do you sculpt directly with voxels?

- Does the voxel sculpt mode some particular cons? How good is the control over an hard shape/surfacem how does it feel? Would you compare it to an absolute, precise control like the one you have when you block out?

-  Does voxel sculpting give particular problems when it comes to retopology? Most people use a blockout to have a retopology mesh almost ready (never made a retopo before, so sorry for the ignorance about the topic)!

Well, that's all for now (I've few other super-nooby questions to be honest, but they'll be for later)! All of this came because I've noticed that in voxel mode you can make crazy details with lightspeed and with great freedom, but also that if I import a blockout mesh and voxelize it, instead of starting with a voxel mesh, it'll create annoying voxely artifacts (apparently, 99% on inclined edges) that I can't make go away with Res+ and I don't know how to polish! I'm also wondering if it makes sense to NOT use voxel mode, considering the great advantages it offers even on a dynamesh... but to know that, I must wait for your response!

Thanks to everyone in advantage for the help, I promise I'll annoy you more with silly questions on geometry and sculpting soon!

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Here I am not going to recommend a workflow. There are so many techniques that various artist use. Here are a few videos to get you started.

3DC is a powerful tool for hard surface modeling once you learn the tool set... Take your time, start simple work to complex.

First, though is to understand the difference between voxel mode ( voxels) Voxels are more or less 3D pixels with depth. To capture the details of an object requires generally a large number voxels.

Surface Mode is polygon based thus a surface representation of a object.

Importing a low polygon model video.

First part is voxel mode. At  6:35 is where AbnRanger discusses importing for surface mode.  At the 8:30 mark to the end of the video, listen very close as he gives a way of increasing a low polygon blocked in model to capture all the details increasing the number of polygons for further work. This is a very important piece of knowledge to have for hard surface.

Whether you import or start in 3DC the principles are the same for all the below videos.



Here is a series by AlienMinefield  working on a hard surface model. 

Click on the 3DCoat: Spaceship Wing. A series of 8 videos.



More hard surface modeling. Now I have not watched all of these but here they are. There are more videos out there on the net.




3DC official playlist for many parts of the program.


Overtime you will get your own workflow going using the above ones plus the ones you develop.

Edited by digman
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Thank you Digman for your help! 
I'm following these tutorials and I'm really appreciating them, so clear and straight! I'm also seeing that voxels can be controlled veyr well and can incredibly speed up hardsurface sculpting! This permit working a lot more artistically, allowing to easily follow concepts and to totally ignore geometry at this step... it's just amazing. I'm starting to clear have clearer ideas! Thank you again!

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As digman said there really are multiple ways to make the same object. I figured since you are curious of how a possible hardsurface approach could work in 3D Coat I figure I share with you my process so you can get an idea of what may work for you. The model demonstrated below (a medkit) I whipped up from start to finish in just under 2 hours yesterday (could have gone faster but was screwing around with the design in the first step).

Step 1 (Basic Model - External 3D program):

In my 3d modeling program I lay out the very basic shape of my model. For what I do I focus on low poly assets primarily:


Some things to keep in mind when planning to import a model to 3D Coat (especially in voxel form) is make sure there are no holes. It makes converting the model to a voxel way easier. Also one really awesome feature of 3D Coat is it knows the smoothness of the edges on your model so if you smooth the edges (like the rounded sections of my model have) then when you use the subdivide tool when converting to a voxel the program will automatically smooth those to perfect round edges even though your model is super low poly.


Step 2 (High Poly Voxels - Sculpt Room):

The next step I convert my entire model in pieces to a voxel then merge them all together again. I don't have to make a high poly version of my model with a program like 3D Coat becasue with voxels I can do just that. Simple things such as upping the voxel resolution the re-sampling creates that nice clean smoothness I want to bake as a normal map on my low poly. In this stage you could also start to apply more detail to the object (like bolts, indents, details, etc) but I do this after my initial bake and save it for the paint room. So now my high poly version of the model is done. The strap is not included since I didn't need to make it any smoother since its already flat, hence why its not included in this voxel.



Step 3 (Low Poly Unwrap - UV Room):

Now that my high poly is ready and waiting I go back to my low poly model and using 3D Coat's powerful unwrapping tools I unwrap the model. For the most part 3D Coat is so efficient at unwrapping I barely have to do manual unwrapping of pieces unless I know I need an easier time to paint in the 2D viewport.



Step 4 (Baking normal map - Retopo Room):

The next step is to bake the normal maps from my high poly voxel onto the low poly one in the retopo room. This step is pretty quick and straightforward granted there are no errors in your bake. If you know how to model correctly and how normal maps are best generated with little to no errors it starts to become second nature on how your low poly models should be prepared to get the perfect bake (or the level of quality you care about). Below is the normal map I generated on top of my low poly model with no textures applied to it yet. Ambient Occlusion and Curvature were also generated at this step too.



Step 4 (Applying those sweet textures - The Paint Room):

Last but not least is the beloved paint room. This is really where I get all my enjoyment out of 3D Coat. It is where I finalize my model applying the extra normal detail and of course adding those sweet textures. It is extremely fun and intuitive how 3D Coat lets the user paint on the object so once you start painting more objects you will get a very good feel for the methods and process to get the exact results you want. With my Medkit object below I created my own custom textures and smart materials (will release them as a set one day) but you can use what 3D Coat ships with to get a very good understanding how materials work in PBR workflow and all the crazy fun stuff you can do. Really the important thing to remember in the paint room is to have a lot of fun with your models.

I used only one 1024x1024 uv map for the entire kit and the strap is in 512x512 resolution. Nothing super ultra 8k or anything.



oh come on now, I can't leave it looking perfect now can I? Time to give this medkit some battle scars and dirty it up a bit more I think:



Hope this helps a little. I don't claim to be an expert of 3D Coat or an expert of making art assets. I am just simply providing to you my workflow but I am sure all the other artists out there have possibly better methods or alternative ways to do the process which you may find better for you. Really the most important takeaway is get some modeling done and play around with them in 3D Coat seeing how each room in the program best suits your needs. Have a lot of fun 3D Coat opens a lot of doors for opportunity to make some awesome stuff in quick efficient ways.




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Thank you very much Mystical!

Your workflow is very straightforward and precise, I love it and this is the kind of workflow I'm looking for, considering I'm very interested in lowpoly modeling and in integrating it with 3DCoat! I'm loving this software more everyday, and it looks like at least for hardsurface, it's just the best on the market :D

Thank you again, I'm working hard to improve my messy lowpoly meshes and I'm learning a lot from this! 

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